Lessons Learned From Having A Big Family

April 21, 2014

I know I know, I’ve totally failed on the Book Club front. The last From Left To Write post I wrote was in December…whoops! Now that I’m settled in the new apartment and things are falling into place I thought I would have more time to read. As it turns out, writing an ecookbook doesn’t leave much time for pleasure reading but fortunately this book was a quick read!

Dad-Is-Fat-From-Left-to-Write-BannerThe book is called “Dad Is Fat” and it was written by Jim Gaffigan (yes, the comedian) about life living in a 2 bedroom apartment in NYC. It was definitely hilarious and I LOLed a few times but I think my lack of children made it hard for me to relate. It wouldn’t say it was on the same comedic level as say “Bossy Pants” by Tina Fey or “Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me” by Mindy Kaling but it was definitely funny. Conclusions, having 5 kids is straight up crazy and trying to live in a 2 bedroom apartment in NYC with said kids is pure insanity. Note to self, don’t do that.


The blondie of the family.

Even though I don’t have kids of my own, I could relate having grown up with 3 older siblings. Yes, I am the baby of four and it is oh so obvious. While I don’t think I’ll be having four kids (or any kids) any time soon, this book definitely had me thinking on what I learned from growing up in a big family. There were some pros and some very clear cons in growing up with so many siblings but in the end I wouldn’t have it any other way. Except that I might tell my parents daily how awesome they are for putting up with us every single day. Kudos to you!

1. I am extremely territorial. We literally hid food in our house because boundaries did not exist. Privacy was limited and just because you walked door-to-door for that Halloween candy doesn’t mean it’s yours. I am still this way. Sharing ain’t my strong suit.

2. I am very assertive. Because I was forced to be so territorial  I am used to vocalizing EVERYTHING. If I don’t like things a certain way I will tell you and if I want something you better bet you’ll know about it. Some call it aggressive, I call it effective.

3. I am as loyal as they come. Coming from such a big family meant I grew up in a small tribe. I may have some not-so-kind words to say about my siblings, but if you dare say anything mean I will jump to their defence.

4. I’m comfortable wearing anything. Being the fourth kid meant I wore hand-me-downs for life. It also made me an 80s baby in the 90s. I mean check out this sweet dress/moo moo.

blonde davs5. I am productive in the midst of chaos. I am so used to hearing noise all the time that I can just totally zone it out. I’m actually more comfortable working in a public space. The guys in Starbucks on McGill college know me…

6. I am uncomfortable with silence. Not only am I productive with loud noises, I prefer it that way. I am always the first person to fill the void if a conversation goes silent. Usually it means me rambling about nothing.

This post was inspired by the novel Dad is Fat by comedian Jim Gaffigan who riffs on his adventures co-parenting 5 kids in a two bedroom Manhattan Apartment. Join From Left to Write on April 22 as we discuss Dad is Fat. As a Member I received a copy of the book for review purposes, but all opinions are my own.

Did you grow up in a big family? What have you learned from your family?


Join 10,000+ members of the THM Community to get access to exclusive recipes, healthy lifestyle tips and behind-the-scenes news from our team!

Powered by ConvertKit
  • Reply
    Arman @ thebigmansworld
    April 21, 2014 at 5:51 am

    Is it bad that I was literally nodding at all the ‘lessons’ you’ve learnt? Maybe because I’ve experienced ALL of them in your presence. Especially Numero 3. If we were in the Hunger Games and I got picked, you’d better bloody vonlunteer as tribute. I, however, would not do the same for you. F

    rom my family, I learnt that those you may have trusted in the past can show a new shade of colour without any notice. And not a nice shade at that!

  • Reply
    meredith @ The Cookie ChRUNicles
    April 21, 2014 at 6:35 am

    I am an only child but I did wear all of my cousin’s hand-me-downs because my dad and his sister are super close making my two closest and favorite cousins like sisters to me – one is two years older than me (she runs the races with me) and one is my age.

  • Reply
    Kim @ BusyBod
    April 21, 2014 at 6:42 am

    This list is so dead on. I grew up in a blended family with six kids and I could not agree more. I actually need noise to be productive/sane so the tv is on constantly in our house and when I’m not at home working the headphones are always in. I grew up in the silent woods but I sleep with a fan on and use a white noise app when we travel because it was never really silent and now I always tell people that silence hurts my ears. It’s the only way I know to explain the feeling. As for assertive, John describes being with my family as 8 people constantly talking over top of each other. My dad encouraged this by instilling the mindset that if you want to be heard, you make yourself heard. I like to credit my lawyer (future) skills with being taught to command the attention of the room from a very young age. 🙂

  • Reply
    Alison @ Daily Moves and Grooves
    April 21, 2014 at 7:31 am

    I grew up in a family of four with only two kids, me and my bro. I totally get the loyalty thing— if anyone says anything mean about my brother, there is a chance that I will kick his/her butt.
    From my family, I have learned how to do favors without asking for something in return, how to share, and how to tolerate weird food smells.

  • Reply
    Becky @ Olives n Wine
    April 21, 2014 at 7:33 am

    I only have one sister and I’m the oldest so my family is a slightly different story 🙂 I feel for you on the hand me downs though… my poor sister – whether it fit her or not, she wore it!

  • Reply
    Shelley @ Two Healthy Kitchens
    April 21, 2014 at 7:56 am

    Love this book recommendation! I’m a big Jim Gaffigan fan but somehow missed this book – can’t wait to read it! Even though I come from a smaller family with just one brother, I so enjoyed hearing your reflections of how your larger family shaped who you became, just as I’m sure my somewhat smaller family shaped who I am, too! Such a fun post! 😀

  • Reply
    Erin @ The Almond Eater
    April 21, 2014 at 8:09 am

    Omgsh that dress–I love it. I don’t have a big family per se but I definitely was/still am the stereotypical older sibling (bossy, bossy, really bossy) and my brother is the typical younger sibling (compliant with my bossiness). Somehow it continues to work because the older we get the closer we become. I’ve learned that your sibling(s) and your parents are your friends and that family will always be there for you.

  • Reply
    Sam @ Better With Sprinkles
    April 21, 2014 at 8:41 am

    I have only one brother, but I do relate to being the baby of the family…and extremely territorial. I agree with you about the book – it was pretty funny, but I would have related more if I actually had kids.

  • Reply
    Consuelo @ Honey & Figs
    April 21, 2014 at 9:28 am

    lol yes, I have two younger brothers and I 100% agree with this. Especially #1, because THEY WON’T STOP EATING MY BAKING SUPPLIES and it drives me so mad.
    Happy Monday!

  • Reply
    Ang @ Nutty for Life
    April 21, 2014 at 9:44 am

    Definitely didn’t grow up in a big fam. Just me, Adam, and my parents. As I was reading this I felt like my personality is pretty much the opposite haha (except for sense of humor and also opposites attract so we can still be friends). I think a lot of the way I am comes from the fact that I only have one sibling and he’s a pretty quiet dude. I’m very comfortable with silence if I feel comfortable around who I’m with, I can’t work with chaos around me – I get VERY distracted, and I’m really not very assertive. But I am extremely loyal, I’m like a dog or something, and I’m really territorial about my belongings/etc. So I dunno! I think assertiveness is def affected by family size.

  • Reply
    April 21, 2014 at 9:45 am

    I love that you grew up in such a big family! I only had one sibling so there was just us two kids, however, I am not sure how many kids I want. Right now I am thinking anywhere from 2-4. I know, that’s a big difference, but I guess my husband and I will just see as we have kids. 🙂

  • Reply
    Kelly @ Kelly Runs For Food
    April 21, 2014 at 10:07 am

    My family is super small, so it was little different growing up. I’m the baby, so I did wear all my sister’s hand-me-downs. The problem was that it took me forever to grow so by the time I could fit into my sister’s old clothes they weren’t age-appropriate at all! Things my sister wore when she was 8 wouldn’t fit me until I was 10.

  • Reply
    cait @pieceofcait
    April 21, 2014 at 10:27 am

    first of all.. your to cute! and totally digging the outfit, i think i wore something very similar 😉 AND i am the baby of the family too! I have two older sisters. I couldn’t imagine not having them!

  • Reply
    April 21, 2014 at 10:54 am

    Hahahahahahhaha oh my god your moo moo dress is too cute

  • Reply
    Amanda @ .running with spoons.
    April 21, 2014 at 11:12 am

    I think I’m going to save that pic of you in the moo moo dress to my phone and assign it to your contact so that I can see it whenever we text 😆 Perfection.

    I’ve always wondered what it would be like to have a big family. Not only am I an only child, but me, Mom, and Dad are the only ones over here on this side of the big blue sea. I’ve only seen my extended family a handful of times, and it wasn’t too bad when I was younger, but now that I’m older and grew up without them, they basically feel like strangers. Sad!

  • Reply
    GiGi Eats Celebrities
    April 21, 2014 at 11:40 am

    THIS IS WHY WE ARE FRIENDS – we were both raised in big families, thus we have the same IDEALS………… And they go BEYOND THIS LIST! 😉

    PS: you look SMOKING HOT in that floral dress! I bet it will be featured on the next Vogue Cover!!

  • Reply
    Ursula @ Northern Ambitions
    April 21, 2014 at 11:58 am

    haha I love this. I grew up in a house with four older sisters and can totally relate. I’m really good at yelling my opinions at the dinner table during family debates 🙂

  • Reply
    April 21, 2014 at 11:58 am

    I’m totally opposite! I grew up in a small family (just me and my brother) and I’m kind of quieter and shy. I am totally ok with silence and will let you talk and talk and I’ll just listen. Haha! It’s interesting how our family dynamics shape who we are.

  • Reply
    April 21, 2014 at 12:17 pm

    I grew up with a big family, but because my parents were divorced, I was only around most of them a few times a year. The summers were always spent with my dad which meant I got to be around all my cousins and extended family. Boy oh boy were we all different! I hate silence too, which is why I always have headphones with me so I can listen to music anywhere, but I am super duper shy. I was always the cousin that just sat and waited for someone to come play with me! lol

  • Reply
    April 21, 2014 at 12:26 pm

    Did we grow up in the same family? I only have one brother, but we shared a house Hippie community style with another family. I LOVE when there’s noise of other people around. And I am oh so social – full house is my favorite mode.

  • Reply
    Jordan @ The Blonde Vegan
    April 21, 2014 at 12:38 pm

    OMG I can’t even tell you how much I relate to this post. I am also the youngest of four, and I can absolutely relate to every single number on your list. Especially the territorial, the vocalizing, the loyalty (best one for sure) and the being comfortable wearing anything! Totally loving that moo moo. And that book sounds really good- I was also a huuuuge fan of “Bossy Pants” so maybe this one will be up my alley, too! Xox

  • Reply
    Megan @ The Skinny-Life
    April 21, 2014 at 12:41 pm

    I have one brother 7 yrs younger than me. I pretty much feel like an only child though. We had such a big age difference growing up and he’s not a part of our family much anymore. I am easily distracted and cannot focus when there is commotion around me. I really cherish my alone time but that could be because I constantly feel like I’m surrounded by people or maybe I’m just an introvert or both. 🙂

  • Reply
    Alex @ Kenzie Life
    April 21, 2014 at 1:41 pm

    I don’t have a big immediate family, it’s just my sister and I. However, I do have a really large extended family (Romanian Style) so my cousins feel more like siblings than cousins, and their kids feel like my nieces and nephews. It was really fun to learn more about you!

  • Reply
    Nikki @ Quest for Balance
    April 21, 2014 at 3:15 pm

    I’m the complete black sheep of my fam. My sister, mother and father are all very logical, let brained kind of people where as I’m a emotionally driven, as emphatic as they come and very much more go with the flow. This kind of dynamic definitely taught me to always trust my own instincts and do what I wanted to do for me even when someone (or everyone in this case) does not agree. Completely invaluable lesson to have to learn. It’s definitely made me a much more independent and self assured person.

  • Reply
    April 21, 2014 at 3:18 pm

    I have 3 siblings, too but I’m the oldest (well, I have a twin but I’m 3 minutes older than him!!).
    Basically I raised my younger siblings and did not appreciate it at all!!!
    Chris has 4 sisters and he wanted to have 5-6 kids, I wanted 2 – we have 2 and it is perfect!!!

  • Reply
    April 21, 2014 at 3:29 pm

    You were seriously the cutest/most fashionable kid. I’m dying at that photo. Can you do a total Throwback Thursday post where you just post old photos??

  • Reply
    Mary Frances
    April 21, 2014 at 3:41 pm

    You rocked that dress! I was laughing throughout this whole post, and then stopping suddenly, and going “oh yeah … that is totally me.” Ditto Cassie, throw back Thursday please??

  • Reply
    April 21, 2014 at 4:00 pm

    I grew up in a pretty small family – my sis, mom, dad and I – and maybe its cos we uprooted from extended family and friends, but we definitely looked out for each other!
    My dad was always generous with his sayings – “if you dont have anything nice, dont say anything at all” and “red sky in the morning, a sailors warning” were two of his favs! 🙂

  • Reply
    Gabby @ the veggie nook
    April 21, 2014 at 6:06 pm

    So funny, but I wrote almost the exact opposite post- thoughts on being an only child. Too funny 😉

  • Reply
    Gina @ Health, Love, and Chocolate
    April 21, 2014 at 6:45 pm

    I have a very small family but all of these were still spot on for me. Especially the hiding food and rambling to fill conversation voids…

  • Reply
    Chelsea @ Chelsea's Healthy Kitchen
    April 21, 2014 at 7:20 pm

    Hahaha my mom totally made me wear embarrassing dresses like that too… with matching velvet bows the size of my face in my hair! I grew up in a smaller family with just my mom, dad, sister, and me but I can relate to being territorial. In high school me, my sister, and my mom all tried to steal each others’ clothes! One of the most valuable lessons I learned as a kid though? The most effective way to get what you want from a sibling is to sit on them.

  • Reply
    April 21, 2014 at 7:35 pm

    LOOK HOW CUTE YOU WERE!!!!!!!!!!! Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

  • Reply
    Meghan @ fitnesscrEATures
    April 21, 2014 at 8:31 pm

    I vote you die your hair blonde again and join team #fakeblonde and we can act dumb together. But really, let’s do it. 🙂 And yolo to the noise thing. In my office I have my music blasting all day and if there is no music, there is no work.

  • Reply
    Polly @ Tasty Food Project
    April 21, 2014 at 8:37 pm

    I grew up with just one brother and we were both very overprotected while growing up. As a result, we were both very shy during our childhood. It was until we became adults when we came out of our shells.

    My husband, on the other hand, grew up in a family of 5 kids. Most of them are outgoing and I think they will agree with you when you say you are uncomfortable with silence! It is never quiet whenever I spend time with my in-laws! lol

  • Reply
    Pamela @ Brooklyn Farm Girl
    April 21, 2014 at 8:59 pm

    I’m a big Gaffigan fan so I was happy to see that featured right at the front of your post! Glad you liked it.

  • Reply
    Mora Hecht
    April 21, 2014 at 9:05 pm

    Great post! Although I am totally not in your demographic I love reading your blog! You are talented and very funny!

    Btw, you have the most wonderful family! Love, Cousin Mora

  • Reply
    Lauren @ ihadabiglunch
    April 21, 2014 at 10:18 pm

    I don’t have a big family but I do have a twin brother…that made me extremely territorial! It also made me hate silence too! I’ve always had a partner in crime right by my side…being alone wasn’t an option growing up. And the whole “hiding your food” thing I think is prevalent if you have a brother in general haha brothers don’t know the meaning behind portion control.

  • Reply
    April 21, 2014 at 10:39 pm

    I didn’t grow up in a big family but we had a huge extended family. Every Sunday we’d get together for lunch and games. I miss those Sundays!

  • Reply
    Nicole @ Foodie Loves Fitness
    April 22, 2014 at 1:02 am

    Awww you’re the baby of the fam! I’m also 1 of 4 but I’m a middle child. I always loved having a big family. Both of my parents are 1 of 4 as well and their siblings also had a lot of kids, so I feel like there were always people around to hang out with (and fight with – my older brother and I used to claw each other’s eyes out!!). I always pictured I’d have a lot of kids too, but now I’m like hmmm I don’t really want kids for at least a few years, so biologically to make it work I’d have to have a kid every other year once I start. Ha! We’ll see how it turns out 🙂

  • Reply
    Aqilah Norazman
    April 22, 2014 at 6:32 pm

    Love the dress, Davida!! And I am most productive in the midst of chaos too. I think my family is a bunch of loud-hailers so I totally grew up with it!

  • Reply
    Alicia S
    April 23, 2014 at 3:54 pm

    What a cute post! I like the way you write. I was the oldest of four and I think I can relate to alot of what you wrote, but at least I always got to wear the new clothes first! 🙂

  • Reply
    Heather @ Run Like a G!
    April 25, 2014 at 3:33 pm

    Our family was a family of 4. I liked it like that but my mom and dad had HUGE families. I always dreamed of having 4-5 kids because it would be fun. Now that I have grown up, it is a lot of work! I always give huge props to mama and papas! They rock!

  • Reply
    April 27, 2014 at 2:31 pm

    I liked reading more about you than the actual book. I grew up with two brothers so I can relate to being territorial, assertive and uncomfortable with silence. Now that I’m getting older though, I’ve learned to really appreciate silence, especially in the morning.

Leave a Reply

Join 5000+ members of the THM Community and get my free 10 Day Guide to Busting Your Stress.

Stay in the loop!

Join 10,000+ members of the THM Community to get access to exclusive recipes, healthy lifestyle tips and behind-the-scenes news from our team!